Concept-Free Bistro in
The Heart of Boboland
Upstairs at Le Bistro du Temple.
In the shopping area around the Rue de Bretagne, a lively and utterly charming part of Paris’s Haut Marais that is in imminent danger of becoming over-bobo-ified, it is a pleasure to find a new restaurant that is not chicer-than-thou and has no “concept.” Le Bistro du Temple is simply a restaurant serving tasty, inventive, satisfying food in an attractive space.
My lunch companion and I also appreciated the fact that the menu was not a carbon copy of that of every other recently opened restaurant in Paris, but offered a few more unusual choices like merlu (hake) tempura, and farmhouse Camembert coated with almonds. We were also pleased to see that the reasonably priced lunch specials were the same dishes offered on the more extensive dinner menu, not dumbed-down versions of them. We were even more pleased when the owner told us that anything from the dinner menu was available at a 30 percent discount at lunchtime.
In the end, we chose from the lunch menu anyway. I had the Camembert, which came
with slices of smoked duck breast and a mixed salad with truffle oil vinaigrette. It was all very good and flavorful, but rather over the top and too rich. The duck seemed superfluous with the oozing, crunchy-crusted cheese. John’s tartare of salmon and haddock was fresh and pleasing.
For my main course, I broke my standing rule: “Never order pasta in a French restaurant” (because it is usually overcooked to the point of
mushiness). I was glad I did. The triangoloni (triangular ravioli) stuffed with ceps and truffles and served in a pistou cream sauce came piping hot and perfectly cooked, and was worthy of a good Italian restaurant (high praise indeed). I savored every bite. John’s tempura of hake was not greasy, and the fish was not overcooked – two dangers of any tempura dish.
It was served, rather strangely, with a very intense tomato sauce, as well as green beans and snow peas.
We shared a dessert of a sort of prune pudding topped with chopped nuts and served with a sorbet whose flavor we couldn’t identify. It was fine, but didn’t excite any rhapsodies. Our wine, a lovely 2011 Côtes du Rhone Villages from Domaine des Lauribert, was a bargain at €22.
The owner was extremely affable, accommodating and attentive, and the servings generous in this agreeably decorated restaurant, with simple modern furnishings in an old-fashioned setting complete with exposed beams. An exhibition of handsome abstract paintings and fresh flowers added to the pleasing atmosphere.
Like last week’s restaurant, La Bonne Cécile, Le Bistro du Temple is a good option if you are in the neighborhood and looking for a nice place to eat, but probably not a destination in itself.
Le Bistrot du Temple: 19, rue de Picardie, 75003 Paris. Métro: Arts-et-Métiers. Tel.: 01 42 77 48 01. Open Tuesday-Saturday for lunch and dinner. A la carte: around €26 for lunch and €40 for dinner.
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